Can Weighted Blankets Be Beneficial For People With Autism?
The use of a Weighted Blanket can perform greatly in providing the needed care for improving the sleep of children with autism.
The weight and pressure these blankets provide could create a sense of security for the people who use them, because they are heavier than a typical blanket.
In the autism community, weighted blankets are often used by occupational therapists (OTs) to help calm and comfort restless or stressed individuals, while providing additional sensory input. Weighted blankets are also helpful for sleep and anxiety issues commonly endured by people with autism spectrum disorder.
OTs and their patients alike, seem to generally prefer using weighted blankets rather than regular blankets. According to a study conducted on 67 children with autism, ranging in age from 5 to 16 years old, it was noted that participants with a severe sleep disorder showed to some extent, an improvement in objective measurements of total sleep time, time to fall asleep, or frequency of waking. Subjectively, both the participants and their parents preferred the weighted blanket to the normal blanket.
What Are Some Reasons Parents Should Buy Their Autistic Child A Weighted Blanket?
It’s very common for children with autism to have sleeping problems, and many parents are very excited to learn how the weighted blanket works to improve the quality of sleep for their autistic child. Weighted blankets can increase the release of serotonin in the body due to the deep touch pressure. Serotonin is an important chemical that helps to provide a stable mood and the feeling of calmness. Children with autism often have low levels of serotonin and melatonin.
Not only does the release of serotonin help a child feel calmer, but serotonin is needed to create melatonin in the body.
Melatonin is the sleep hormone. It is a naturally occurring hormone that works with the body’s circadian rhythm. However, children with autism tend to not produce melatonin very well on their own, they struggle to have a natural sleep schedule. Some parents will use supplements that contain melatonin to increase levels in their autistic children bodies, but a weighted blanket is another great option to try!
Weighted blankets also help to calm down the nervous system and have been shown to reduce anxiety. Anxiety is considered one of the factors that keep children with autism from sleeping.
Weighted blankets are heavy, which can help reduce tossing and turning resulting in a restful night’s sleep.
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